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Pelicans need to treat second matchup versus Warriors as must-win and hope for help on remaining NBA schedule

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New Orleans best — albeit really small — shot of squeezing into the play-in tournament might be of leapfrogging San Antonio

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Following last night’s 123-108 loss to the Warriors, the Pelicans’ backs are really up against a wall regarding potential postseason play.

Catching Golden State in the standings now is an even longer shot. Not only would New Orleans have to beat them twice in the two remaining matchups, the Pels would require help, needing other opponents to hand the Warriors several more losses than the Pelicans finish with on the rest of the season schedule.

That scenario is highly unlikely considering Golden State’s remaining games are far from intimidating and Stephen Curry is melting opposing defenses.

No, the best bet for the Pelicans to see action beyond the regular season lies in the hope of winning three more games than the Spurs the rest of the way. Although San Antonio currently sits 2.5 games ahead, the Spurs are riding a four-game losing streak and they have the hardest strength of schedule left. Check out their list of remaining opponents:

  • Jazz
  • Kings
  • Trail Blazers
  • Bucks
  • Nets
  • Knicks
  • Suns (Twice)

That’s murderers row!

Do I have an expectation of a Coach Pop-led team crumbling entirely down the stretch while the Pelicans discover a formula that leads to them posting a lot of wins on the unplayed schedule? Definitely not, but until all hope is dead in the water, facts are facts. There will be plenty of time in the offseason to play the blame game and hold pity parties.

First on the to-do list: the Pelicans have to find a way to get past the Warriors tonight. Zion Williamson is as reliable as they come — an almost insane notion considering he’s only 20, but he can’t win the matchup alone. Brandon Ingram needs to be a bigger factor. The Pels can’t turn the ball over at a high rate. The Warriors can’t finish with 20+ fast break points. And Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins can’t be allowed to have big statistical games.

According to today’s injury report, Steven Adams (first right MTP sprain) and Lonzo Ball (right thumb sprain) are listed as questionable.

The task of beating a Steph-led team isn’t easy and the path to the postseason has never been cloudier, but the Pelicans need to show improvement from 24 hours ago. The lack of focus, inattention to detail and inconsistent effort must be removed from New Orleans locker room.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (29-36) vs Golden State Warriors (33-32)

When: May 4, 7:00 p.m. Central

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.